All four of the major US carriers are now offering unlimited data, but not all of their plans are the same. Each carrier has changed things just a bit to compete with each other, and it's a bit confusing. So here we are to decipher all of the marketing speak from AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint and help you decide which one is the best.
AT&T has two unlimited data plans. One is Unlimited Choice which is $60/month. This gives you unlimited, but your speeds are always capped at 8Mbps and if you surpass the 22GB per month threshold you may see your speeds reduced to 128Kbps. Additionally, there is no mobile hotspot on this plan, which could be a damper for some users. Their other plan is Unlimited Plus and costs $90/month. With this plan, your speeds are not throttled and will be the fastest available. Additionally, AT&T gives you a $25 credit for their video services on this plan. And just added this week, all Unlimited Plus users get HBO for free.
For multiple lines on Unlimited Choice, you'll be looking at $115 for two lines, three for $135 and four for $155. Unlimited Plus breaks down as $145 for two lines, $165 for three and $185 for four. Remember that these prices do not include the price of your smartphone. So that, as well as taxes and fees will also need to be added into the price.
Sprint is always tweaking their unlimited plan, but right now their plan is pretty straight-forward and is $50/month. Their plan offers up unlimited data, along with 10GB of mobile hotspot at 4G LTE speeds, which is then throttled to 128Kbps afterwards. Sprint has updated their plan so that video is no longer throttled, but music is. And you probably won't even notice that music streaming is being throttled since it takes so little bandwidth in the first place.
Pricing wise, the unlimited plan is actually fairly cheap. With one line costing $50, two lines coming in at $90 and right now the third, fourth and fifth lines are free. Making it a crazy good deal for anyone looking to switch their family to Sprint. Remember that these prices do not include taxes and fees, and they also do not include the pricing for the phones and other devices you put on your plan.
T-Mobile's ONE plan is actually offered in a few different variants. There's one that will work for basically everyone. Then there are a few others that give you faster international roaming speeds and such. T-Mobile ONE gives you unlimited data, with 10GB of mobile hotspot at 4G LTE speed. And for those lines that don't use 2GB of data, you'll get a $10 credit making it even cheaper. It starts at $70/month.
Pricing on T-Mobile's ONE plan starts at $70 for a single line and goes all to $120 for two, $140 for three and $160 for four. However, right now, you can get two lines for $100. And that includes new customers. Now unlike the others on this list, this price does include taxes and fees, but it does not include the cost of your smartphones and other devices.
Verizon's unlimited data actually has the least amount of caveats. They only throttle you if you use over 26GB of data in a month, and they may not even throttle you then. They do offer up 10GB of mobile hotspot at 4G LTE speeds, and then it's throttled after that. As an added bonus, Verizon customers are able to use their smartphones in Mexico and Canada just like they would in the US, without paying any added roaming fees.
For $80/month you'll get one line on Verizon's Unlimited Plan. Two lines will set you back $140, three for $160 and four for $180. Remember this is all with a $5 autopay credit. And again, these prices do not include the pricing for your smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and other hardware, nor does it include taxes and fees.
Now as you can see from the table above, the pricing between the four carriers is actually pretty similar. Obviously Sprint is the cheapest, but you also get different benefits with each carrier. So depending on your usage, you might be better off with Verizon if you watch a lot of video, or if you just want the cheapest plan, Sprint may be the best bet for you and/or your family. While pricing might be an important factor in choosing a new carrier, so is their coverage. You'll want to check out an unbiased coverage map to see who has the best coverage in your area. Sensorly's maps are great because they are crowdsourced from real people using their devices around the world. So they are more up-to-date than those that the carriers use, and also are unbiased.